Issue link: http://read.dmtmag.com/i/489019
Stai also encourages dealers to look to military veterans because they are good candidates who already have a lot of the skills and attributes dealers need. e panelists agreed that stealing from other dealers is not a viable, long-term solution. "If you steal from other deal- ers, you drive the price up," said Good- man. "In a couple of years they leave for 25 cents an hour more." While Texas does not yet have an AED-accredited technical school, Vermeer Texas-Louisiana supports a program at Oklahoma State Univer- sity. rough a work-study program, students can recover 80 percent of the cost of tuition and room and board if they stay for two years aer graduation. So far, all of the graduates are primarily recruited through word of mouth and networking. AED-accredited technical schools offer an opportunity for dealers, tech schools and manufacturers to work together to help fill the need for qualified technicians. AED accreditation ensures that the technicians who graduate from the program meet the industry criteria for what a student should know from a two-year program. ere are now 27 AED accredited schools across the nation that dealers can get involved with. With qualified technicians in great demand, retention is as important as recruitment. To retain technicians the panelists concurred that while you must match the pay and benefits of the competition, it is usually other issues that cause technicians to leave, such as bad management. "Money and benefits is baseline," said Stai. "You have to be a leader in your area, building a culture where people are appreciated." "If they are unsatisfied or disre- spected, they can take their ball and go somewhere else and make as much if not more," added Ivey. Vermeer Texas-Louisiana has grown from eight to 13 branches; and from 35 to 50 techs. While they haven't lost any technicians, meeting the growing demand has been difficult. In one loca- tion that is not a retail facility, they have been able to attract technicians with a four-day workweek. Doggett ties increase in pay with reaching certain levels of John Deere's capstone certification program. Tech- nicians can earn 50 cents an hour more with the first certification and 25 cents more per hour for additional certifications. Call-in Product Support Call-in product support centers are becoming a way to turn a problem area into an opportunity for service shops. And what's the problem? Customers who want the service manager to repair their machine over the phone. These calls, while important to overall customer service, cut into the billable hours of a shop foreman or service manager. Vermeer Texas-Louisiana recently moved an experienced service manager, who is limited physically because of illness, into a call-in product support role. Service managers will take a customer up to a certain point but will then turn the call over to the call-in product support person. While the dealership is just getting started with the program, they are looking at possibly making it a subscription- based service for customers. General Equipment & Supplies has two people in the role. All service calls are routed through them and they allow 10 minutes per customer. It has drasti- cally reduced the number of calls the service managers are taking. At the end of 10 minutes, they ask the customer if they want to send a guy out or transfer them to the tech center to schedule service. "It has become a revenue producer for us," said Stai. Doggett recently added light-duty or retiring techs to handle incoming service calls in conjunction with the launch of Service Advisor Remote. Ivey views it as a tool for building loyalty. "Sometimes [the customer] just needs to ask a few questions and they feel good," said Ivey. "He thinks, 'I am going to go back to that company.' Or, if you don't don't help him he thinks, 'I will never buy from them again.'" Applying the Kaizen Process Kaizen is the process of continuous improvement. A concept originating in Japan, it means change (kai) for the good (zen). Kaizen practitioners believe that big results come from many small changes accumulated over time. Vermeer Corp. is widely recognized for their use of Kaizen events to increase efficiency and develop best practices. A formal Kaizen event brings together cross-functional teams to work together to address a problem or improve a ("Parts and Service Hot List" continued from page 35) >> COVER STORY PRODUCT SUPPORT 36 | www.cedmag.com | Construction Equipment Distribution | April 2015 (continued on page 55) ABOUT THEIR OPERATIONS General Equipment & Supplies Territory: North Dakota and tier counties in Minnesota Major Brand: Komatsu Locations: 9 Vermeer Texas-Louisiana Territory: Texas and Louisiana Major Brand: Vermeer Locations: 13 Doggett Heavy Equipment Services Territory: Texas and Louisiana Major Brand: John Deere Locations: 18 The AED Summit's Product Support Best Practices panelists (left to right): Mitchell Ivey, Steve Stafki, and Dennis Goodman.